Thursday, November 17, 2011

Brazil will produce fuel from sewage sludge

By Waldirene Biernath

Brazil will import from Germany a manufacturing process of clean fuel - without emitting greenhouse gases - which uses sewage as raw material.

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The process consists in tranform the gases  on renewable  
Compressed Natural Gas.
The process transforms the gases generated in the decomposition of sewage sludge on biomethane, a kind of renewable Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), unlike petroleum derivative.

The system will be deployed in a treatment plant of Sabesp (Basic Sanitation Company of São Paulo) in Franca City (400 km from the capital) and should start operating in March, 2012, even on a trial basis.

The new fuel is already used in organizational fleets (public and private) in Europe for a decade.

Budgeted at R$ 6 million, the project is developed in partnership with the Fraunhofer Foundation. Germany will transfer U.S. $ 5.1 million and Sabesp afford $ 900 thousand.

The Sabesp technological innovation superintendent, Américo Sampaio de Oliveira, said the plant to be installed in Franca will produce 1,900 m³ of biomethane per day.

Each m3 of gas equals one gallon of gasoline and, therefore, the daily volume for the planned unit corresponds to 10% of all fuel used today by 5,057 vehicles in the fleet in the State of Sabesp.

"This initial production can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 16 tons per year," said Sampaio.

Initially, however, the new fuel will be used in 49 company cars.

If the experiment succeeds, biomethane can be adopted for the entire fleet of Sabesp.


First, it will take three years of study on the feasibility and logistics for distribution in the state.

Although produced from sewage sludge, biomethane has not the typical bad smell of sewage.

This is because the manufacturing process filters out H2S (hydrogen sulfide), responsible for the odor of rotten eggs and can corrode the engine.

It also removed from the gas siloxanes, substances that form crust that can block small pipes of the machine.

greenhouse: of or relating to or caused by the greenhouse effect;
sewage (noun): waste substances, especially waste from people’s bodies, removed from houses and other buildings by a system of large underground pipes called sewers;
sludge (noun): a thick soft substance that remains when liquid has been removed from something in an industrial process;
raw material (noun):  material suitable for manufacture or use or finishing;
fleets (noun): a group of vehicles, planes, boats, or trains, especially when they are owned by one organization or person;
plant (noun): a factory that produces power, or processes chemicals, etc;
pipe (noun): a tube that carries liquid or gas from one place to another.


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